by Fred Mills
From an archival perspective, the Necros always seemed to get short shrift. But hopefully the twofer at hand will restore a few pages to the history books; along with Detroit’s own Negative Approach, the Maumee, Ohio, combo (1979-88) was among the premier Midwest hardcore outfits of the era. Tangled Up, their second LP, famously sporting “Ratfink” cover art by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, found the Necros embracing a more overtly metallic sound — upon its 1987 release they went on tour with Megadeth and Overkill — without sacrificing any of their spine-snapping intensity. With bassist Ron Sakowski and future Laughing Hyenas drummer Tod Swalla powering the locomotive, guitarist Andy Wendler and scorched-lunged vocalist Barry Henssler freely explored everything from Dictators-like punk (“Big Chief,” whose title would later give name to Henssler’s post-Necros band) to Oi!-styled anthemic thrash (“Gun”) to raging sludgeadelica (a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Nile Song”).
Rounding out the CD is Live Or Else, recorded on the aforementioned tour and posthumously issued in 1990 by the Medusa label. It’s hard to say what’s more entertaining, Henssler’s brutally hilarious tour diary in the liners (of the dim-bulb metal fans he encountered on the road Henssler writes, “These people should have to take an equivalency exam before they can come to the show”) or the music itself. Highlights include the Van Halenesque cock-rock of “Love Dagger,” a Led Zep breakdown in “Open Wound” and the 6-minute “Nugent Medley” incorporating, you guessed it, choice Nuge chestnuts, notably a churning, slo-mo “Stranglehold.”
Fred Mills writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.